Friday, May 20, 2022 | Lean is a guiding philosophy at Granger Construction. In the following video, Granger Lean Operations Manager Chris Scharlach reflects on his Lean journey in the construction industry.

“I think I had heard the term ‘Lean’ maybe twelve years ago,” notes Scharlach. “But for me, it really first hit home … when we did the South Athletic Complex Project for the University of Michigan.”

The team was asked to use a method very similar to the Last Planner System for scheduling, and an outside professional came to lead them through a boot camp.

“Up through that timeframe, Lean to me always just meant Lean Scheduling,” Scharlach continues. “For a lot of the subcontractors, it was their first foray into Lean. But it was very successful. We got buy-in from all the trades, and they saw the value in doing it.”

Lean concepts originated in manufacturing, and Scharlach notes some people struggled at first with the connection to construction. In manufacturing you do a repetitious task every day and consider, how can you do it “better, faster, quicker, leaner?” But each day is different on a construction project. However, when you break a project down, you can start to notice repetitive tasks, like drywall.

“Or you’re building a hotel room. You do that same room 150 times [and] by room 50, you’ve figured out all the bugs and all the flaws, and the last 100 are going to be perfect.”

Looking at where Granger Construction is today in its Lean journey, Scharlach notes that many of the operations teams across projects utilize Lean concepts daily.

“They’re always finding better ways to do stuff, and then they share that outward, and then other teams adopt it. So, I think we do a lot more than we realize.”

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